The trails are calling you
Mountain Biking with Keith
July gives us some of the best mountain bike opportunities of the year. You can just hear the trails calling to you. The long warm days feel perfect without being too hot. It is this time of year that I like to do some of my favorite high elevation rides.
My personal favorite is Rogers Pass as it peaks at the top of the Continental Divide rewarding you with spectacular views that will simply take your breath away. Rogers Pass is an old travel route that was improved to a two-track road to access a now closed uranium mine. It now rides like a singletrack / 2-track. This ride is for the fairly experienced rider due to high elevation (12,000) and at times technical challenges- mostly rocky 2-track.
There are several options to reach ride Rogers Pass. This is one of my favorites as you will see amazing views, wildflowers, mountain streams and if you are lucky wildlife of all varieties. This route will take you on singletrack, 2-track, gravel road and at times will make your smile hurt.
Begin in the Town of Winter Park and start up the Meadow Trail which is accessed about 1/4 behind Hideway Park. Climb Meadow Trail through part of the Rendezvous subdivision and to the Idlewild trail system. At the top of Meadow Trail turn right on Cross Trails, then right on Serendipity. Serendipity will end when it reaches Yankee Doodle. Turn left on Yankee Doodle and continue until reaches its peak. Just before the top of Yankee Doodle and just before the skinny challenge obstacle turn right. Take your next left (look for the puddles) and you will end up at the intersection of the Rollins Pass road and USFS 128. continue straight ahead for several miles. You are riding up the original railroad route that crossed the Continental Divide. Occasionally you can still see old railroad ties in the road bed. On your left you can make out the wagon and horse trail that paralleled the railroad route. You will pass the top of Buck Creek on your right (look for the metal gate) and Broken Thumb on your left (remember this for the return route). Continue climbing, the grade gets a bit steeper but nothing severe. As you get close to the tree line you will come to an old trail trestle on your left.
Take a moment to enjoy the view and rest your legs a bit as just across from the trestle is the entrance to Rogers Pass. Go around the rocks at the beginning of the Rogers Pass trail and begin your climb. As you begin to climb above tree line the trail will get rocky and a bit steeper. Dig deep and keep going. Soon you begin your traverse, passing the closed mine and reaching your final destination: Rogers Pass.
I like to take some time to enjoy the view. James Peak rises to the south and if you look closely you can see the Ute Indian trail to the southeast. To your west Jim Creek cuts several thousand feet below you, while the Winter Park Ski Resort seems to be calling from below. Turning to the north east you can gaze down upon Heart Lake which on some busy weekends may look like an ad for a tent company with all the colorful tents surrounding the lake.
A different route back
My route back is a bit different. Retrace your ride until you reach the top of Broken Thumb. Ride down Broken Thumb- a combination of 2-track and singletrack – when you reach the end cross the road and head down Twisted Ankle which connects to the Idlewild trail system. Twisted Ankle snakes through the forest and is just a fun singletrack to ride. At the bottom of Twisted Ankle stay left, cross the bridge and turn right on the Ditch Trail. Ride the Ditch Trail to the end and turn left. This will bring you back to Crosstrails where you entered the Idlewild trail system.
Rogers Pass remains open to mountain bikes due to efforts of passionate mountain bikers including those who are part of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance. Grand Mountain Bike Alliance is having its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 12 at the Headwaters Trails Alliance office in Fraser. Come to our meeting and help us make the mountain biking experience the best it can be!
Beavers Sports Shop does a weekly group mountain bike ride every Friday at 6 p.m. from Beavers Sports Shop at the Best Western Hotel in downtown Winter Park. The ride is open to anyone of intermediate ability and above. The pace is determined and type of trails are determined by the group. Come join us! Call 970-726-5988 for more information.
Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!
Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Due to current public health guidance, there will not be an in-person wilderness campsite lottery for Rocky Mountain National Park this year.